5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique (One)

5 things I can see:

My purse

My lamp

My books (yeah I know, more than 5…whatever)

Mr. J’s guitar

Rubber ducks from the arcade claw machine

4 things I can touch:

This notebook

My mattress

The quilt Suzie made for me

My coffee mug

3 things I can hear:

Thunder

SJ Tucker singing (recording, not live…I wish *sigh* miss you girl!)

Is that rain?

2 things I can smell:

Slightly stale air

Damp (aka humidity)

1 thing I can taste:

Potato chips

*

This is an anxiety reduction technique. Read more about it here.

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Dear B—

I once asked you to describe containment in the hopes that words would become a tangible net or spell and I would be safe forever.

Now, instead of a chrysalis I want:

Emptiness

Extreme space

I want open sky

I want rolling storm clouds and I want to feel the sting of every piece of hail as it strikes the ground (it’s still cold here, still winter–mostly).

But even though I have room to run now my brain is still caught in this weird mind snare that maybe was always there, I don’t know how long I’ve been walking around not noticing.

I’m having some problems and creative outlets help but I still have this awful hollow feeling in my chest and maybe if my body dissolved in the river or the obscenely wonderful streaky pink sunset I’d feel better.

So I want to know, now, even though I don’t feel very proper asking you (it’s not about protocol it’s that there’s so much more going on in the world and it’s President’s Day) but I’d love to know your feelings about the open sky and how you would illustrate the opposite of containment.

Call it freedom if you like

Call it emptiness

Call it a void

Call it silence

Call it the loudest noise in the world, a volcanic eruption

Call it whatever it is that you need to feel a lack of containment.

Sincerely yours,

Jessica

Note: This is an open letter. I’d love to hear/read anyone who wants to answer. Thanks.

Writing and Fear

Writing can be scary.

Or more specifically, writing, or expressing yourself creatively comes with a lot of extra negative thoughts.

(Writing itself can be scary too, do you dare express yourself? Do you want to let everything out that’s been trapped behind the locked door?)

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is you need to run towards the things you are afraid of.

Obviously, not burning buildings if you are afraid of fire, but when you want something and you’re afraid to go get it, you need to go get it anyway.

You have your stories and your poems in your brain and you want to EXPRESS them, you want to let them out but then all the BUTs and SELF-DOUBT and REJECTIONS come in and those can really weigh a person down.

Or you think that after you’ve finished your masterpiece, after you’ve poured all of your blood, sweat, and tears onto the page and actually made a thing, the world will look at it and go: that’s awful. Or you’re afraid you won’t get published or you won’t make any money and you’ll either be a starving artist forever or suffer working at a job you hate just so you can get by and write more crap.

Then you have your relationship to your stories and poems, one day you love them and the next day you hate them and you think they’re crap.

Sometimes when I write, memories come up that I don’t want to remember and sometimes writing doesn’t make me feel happy or safe but I still really, really want to do it, I want to finish that project, I want to write more.

But ultimately, even though it’s scary, writing is something you can throw yourself into. Because writing is something you love to do, even if it makes you feel bad sometimes.

If you can find a 9-5 job that does the same thing, a job that fills the hole in your soul, then do that too. But if the only thing that fills that hole is writing, don’t give up just because it doesn’t pay the bills or because you think you aren’t “good” enough.

There’s lots of bad writing out there but I think that there are more unfinished projects in the world than there are bad writers and you shouldn’t care about whether someone else thinks your writing is good or bad, if you think it’s good you need to stick with it and keep going.

If you think your writing is bad then it’s up to you to fix it, and guess what, you CAN fix it because it’s your story and it can be whatever you want it to be.

So don’t let the negative thoughts get you down. Go write.

Why can’t I write?

Writing as a person who has a “day job.” I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m not a business person. I can’t afford to just write and make money off of my writing. I have zero expectations that writing will make me financially stable. But writing isn’t a hobby for me, writing keeps me alive. Writing gives me the strength to go outside my apartment and exist as a human being in a society filled with other human beings. Sometimes being human is scary.

But I’ve found, more harshly than previous bouts of writer’s block, in the last few months I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t found myself capable of putting the ideas forming in my brain onto the page. I have several works in progress and several ideas for how to make them awesome but when I turn on my iPad to write I can’t make the words happen.

So what do I do?

Continue reading Why can’t I write?

Physical(ity)ly

Now I only write numbers.

05 line the 26 day line 2018

My initials are not letters but curves in the road, a roundabout, a punctuated swirl.

I never write my initials the same way twice

But the lab techs and quality know every time it’s me because they

Analyze beautifully

I don’t know what they write I do know

I don’t write words anymore, only numbers

And lines

10 line 04 line 2017 JH

And so on

And so on

With ballpoint pen

I used to hate writing with ballpoints but you can get used to anything if you do it long enough curls in the road like a ribbon, a strand of hair, a stray thought that begins where you are and takes you where you want to be with who you want to be with but if you lose focus you have to error correct and then there are more numbers and more lines

The physical physicality of writing

Anxiety

Me: I’ve been thinking, instead of telling me “you’re doing fine,” whenever I feel like shit could you just say “you’re okay” instead? I think that will help with my neuroses.

Mr. J.: Doesn’t that mean the same thing?

Me: Yes, but it’s different verbiage. Try it.

Mr. J.: (disturbed by the verbiage/sarcastic) I don’t want to.

My husband is super supportive when it comes to dealing with my anxiety. But most of the time everything he says, when I’m in the middle of an anxiety fit, pisses me off. Whenever he says “you’re doing alright” or “you’re doing a good job” I don’t believe him. So I asked him to start telling me I’m just okay because 1) it’s true, I am physically okay and 2) it does in fact mean the same thing. But I can hear it better.

Retail for Introverts

Sometimes existing as a human being in the same space with other human beings is hard.

If the grocery store is too busy I get scared. I get headaches and nauseous, the noise and general press of people are so overwhelming that the only way I can successfully achieve grocery shopping completeness is to bury my face in my love’s shoulder and have him steer me through the aisles and hand me things to carry.

Things to carry=distraction.

Sometimes we have to force ourselves to interact with people when we really don’t want to.

One of those sometimes is if you’re an introvert, you need a job, and the only job you can find is in retail.

So if I have that bad of a reaction to being around people in a store, why would I subject myself to working in a stressful environment?

I need money to pay my bills. Living as a successful human being=compromise.

Similar compromise=wearing a uniform (I hate uniforms) instead of the clothes you love, etc. in order to achieve the end game. End game=you get to keep your car.

Out of the wide variety and varying severity of overwhelms, I have found one of the common discomforts for introverts is just being around people. The people aren’t threatening or doing anything out of the ordinary, they are just existing. Existence isn’t a problem, being around the existing is.

Working retail has stressed me out in ways that I never thought I would be stressed. When I first started working retail (I did a brief, 2-month stint in 2009 in a lingerie shop but I don’t count that anymore) I would bring all my discomfort and stress home with me and I wasn’t always the most pleasant person to deal with. Stress influenced my diet and sleep in negative ways. I felt bad all the time.

And then I recently (10 months of stressful environment did this to me) decided that I couldn’t cope with any of the stress anymore and I said F*** IT. And I let it go. Some people might call this the “head in the sand” effect but I don’t care, I’m making a conscious choice NOT TO BE STRESSED by the retail or the people.

This doesn’t always work, sometimes the stress comes and the overwhelm comes and there’s nothing I can do about it but push through and then cry later BUT for the times when I say “go away” and the stress actually goes away, I experience the best feelings of relief and not-discomfort.

So I made a list of things that help me to not get overwhelmed while working retail.

Most of this advice comes from my interpretation of the Buddhist teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

These are all things that I have struggled to do and at some point, I have managed to successfully do at least once and found that, yes, even if it sounds stupid it really does help.

HOW TO MAKE RETAIL WORK FOR AN INTROVERT:
(you do not have to do these in numerical order)

1 Allow yourself to feel stress but don’t acknowledge it forever. Allow yourself and move on, into the next moment.

2 Try looking people in the eye, the nice people. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, look at their teeth or their hair, something on the same level as their face and accomplish whatever task you need to accomplish.

3 Remember there are no universal rules, not everything will work 100% of the time.

4 Have a good support structure at home, don’t stop talking to friends and family about how you are feeling even if you think your thoughts are worthless or if you feel like you are a burden to them. You aren’t.

5 Find the humor in every negative interaction.

6 Breathe to breathe, don’t breathe to calm down; focus on a basic task instead of people and/or the stress.

7 Observe your thoughts but don’t get caught up in them. It’s okay to say, “I wish I wasn’t here.” But don’t make yourself more stressed by obsessing over being in the negative space.

8 Don’t try to predict everything that will happen on your shift, keep an open mind and don’t imagine bad things that could happen.

9 When stressful situations arise, remember to slow down and take your time completing your tasks, that way you can focus on what you are supposed to do and do it correctly.

10 Listen to everything and think about your response before you speak. Some people might get frustrated that you’re taking too long to answer them but don’t let that discourage you and don’t feel that you have to speed up just to make someone else happy.

11 Always have something fun planned for your break or go somewhere quiet and enjoy existing in a quiet space.

12 Be the person you want to be, not the person you think other people need to see.

13 You aren’t responsible for making your customers or your co-workers happy, just do your job and don’t take on the responsibility of worrying about the emotional fulfillment of other people. If you do your job correctly that is enough, if someone gets upset when you’ve done everything you’re supposed to do, that person is going through something and you have no control over how they react anyway, so don’t expend the energy worrying about them.

14 If you have a uniform and can’t express yourself with what you wear, invest in a pair of nice shoes that you enjoy wearing, that also fit within the uniform guidelines and find small ways, like jewelry or an undershirt, to make yourself feel like you are yourself and not an automaton.

15 When you’re off work, try to stay off work, don’t think about what will happen on your next shift or replay negative interactions from your previous shift. Instead, focus on something small that you enjoy, ex: listen to your favorite song.